Veto under fire as UN turns 70


UNITED NATIONS, United States: More than 100 countries on Friday challenged Security Council powers to restrict their use of the veto as the United Nations turned 70, with a joint pledge not to oppose resolutions on mass atrocities.

The initiative is aimed at avoiding the kind of gridlock that has paralyzed the Security Council on Syria, with Russia and China vetoing any attempt to sanction the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

With 104 countries on board including Security Council permanent members France and Britain, the “code of conduct” won backing from a majority of the UN’s 193 member states.

Supporters of the drive have lobbied countries for months to sign on to the pledge and pointedly announced the outcome on the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Under the measure, countries commit “not to vote against a credible draft resolution” that seeks to end or prevent genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The code of conduct leaves it to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to determine when an outbreak of violence could lead to mass atrocities.

Other than the five permanent members, the Security Council has 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms who vote on resolutions but have no veto power.

Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and Mexico were also among the pledge signatories, as well as three of the countries set to take up non-permanent seats in January: Japan, Ukraine and Uruguay.

The code was drafted by a group of countries known as the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency group, led by Liechtenstein.



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